Technology

Delta's New Phone App

If you are on Android, you may have noticed an update from Delta to their version 4.0 app. Delta's app is named "Fly Delta" and with their 4.0 update, there are many features to take a look at.



While the app store lists a whole range of features, many of them have been in the app previously. It is worth noting that in my opinion the Delta app is one of the best airlines apps on the market, with the update, the app has become even better.

After installing the app, it runs you through the new features, let's take a look at those features.

The user interface when flying has been simplified. For me, seeing that the TSA Precheck icon takes a more central role is great. Previously I felt the TSA Precheck icon wasn't prominent enough on the screen, a quick check of a boarding pass by an agent may have been difficult to find the precheck icon in the past. 

Quick swipes between connecting boarding passes. Not a huge update, but simpler is always welcome in an update.

Flight details update automatically to keep your data current. On the surface this seems great, but honestly most people don't need to have your flight details updated over and over. I'd rather see downloaded boarding passes so that you always have a boarding pass even if connection is lost, trust me this is needed, I've almost ran into problems with this in the past.

Background colors matched to your status. Not a big deal, but always nice to have some little distinguishing feature for your hard earned status.

Overall, this seems like a minor update, but the updates are appreciated. Not sure the updates justify a whole new version number, but it's nice to see Delta continuing to keep their app current.

Going Google Fi Over T-mobile

Ever since T-mobile in the US failed to grab regulatory approval to merge with AT&T, T-mobile has been making some bold moves in the market, moves that have gained T-Mobile some major market share. My current T-mobile plan is still coming in at $75 a month with unlimited everything including data, and it really is unlimited. It isn't the AT&T or Verizon version of unlimited, that is capped at a limiting 5GB or whatever limit you might have.



The other feature of T-mobile that was always a major selling point for me is the free international texting and data. The only problem going for T-mobile when it comes to free international data, is that the speed is highly limited, usually to 2G speeds, which I don't see in the US ever. Speeds are so slow that it might as well be un-usable. 

My solution up until this trip has been to buy a T-mobile data pass. T-mobile makes these passes available for international travelers. There are some lower level data passes, but the one I most commonly used was the 500MB version that lasts for 2 weeks. The lower priced lower data version only lasts a week. My choice for the 500MB pass sets me back $50 every time that I travel. It gets to be expensive really fast.

I was planning to go this route with my phone for my upcoming trip until I remembered that Google's cell service, Project Fi, uses T-mobile combined with Sprint in the US. Outside of the US, their data plan doesn't change. You still have the same data available to you, and you still have the same speeds available. No additional charges or anything. So for a 1 month subscription, I pay $30 total. $20 for the phone line and $10 per 1GB of data. So for twice the length of time, and $20 less money, I get a full 1GB of data to use internationally.

The beauty of the Google way of doing things is that if you were to exceed that 1GB of data you originally signed up for, Google just charges you $10 extra for the next 1GB of data. No overage fees, no added costs, they charge you as if you originally signed up for 2GB. Clean simple and even at 2GB, costs less than the T-mobile data pass.

Now this does require a specific phone to use, but I happen to prefer these phones already. So I just happen to own a Google phone since I like them better, with the perk of it working with Project Fi. 

An amazing deal. Just keep in mind that for my heavily used phone at home in the US, T-mobile is still cheaper. Google lets you pay month to month, so I'll only activate my account when I'm travelling internationally.

Finding ways to save money is always important and this was a big one for me and travelling in the future. Keep up the great service Google.

My BA Flight Has No WiFi

I'm currently walking through the steps of double checking my itinerary and making sure everything is in order for my upcoming flights. My flight to South Africa will be on board a British Airways 747-400, an aircraft I've been looking forward to flying ever since my Qantas flight was swapped to an A380 in 2014. It's one of the few airplanes I've never flown on.



While going through my list of flights, and it's not a short list, I remembered reading about British Airways trialing WiFi on board a single 747 only 1-2 years ago. At the time you were lucky if you boarded this specific aircraft as British Airways literally had no other long haul planes with WiFi... I know, a tad bit surprising for an airline in the modern age.

Deciding to look more into this, I went in search of what is currently offered. This shouldn't surprise any of you when I say that British Airways has not added WiFi to any of their longhaul planes yet... but it's coming soon... well in 2017. 

While the trial seems to have shown BA that it is valuable to have WiFi on board, they decided to switch to the Gogo inflight system over the provider that BA used during the trial period. The airline will be equipping their entire longhaul fleet, as well as some Air Lingus and Iberia flights as well. Unfortunately this will not be any time soon as the 747 will be the first to get WiFi, but the roll out process will certainly take quite some time. 

Really this is very surprising to me. Competitors around the globe have had WiFi for a long time. It seems BA is lagging way behind the competition, and WiFi isn't the only place that is happening. If you've ever seen the show "A Very British Airline," it is a 3 episode show that focuses on British Airways. In the show, BA attempts to show how much of a world class airline they really are. In the real world, BA has a sub par first and business class seats. Food is far from great and service can be downright terrible.

We will see in person how they handle long haul flights in first class. The WiFi issue is not a good start. I do like the idea of British Airways and I want them to be great. Hopefully they can live up to the high standards they attempt to sell to us.

 

No Mobile Passport in Philadelphia

Looking over the Customs and Boarder Protections website dedicated to the new mobile passport system, I found some oddities in where the service is being made available. I was taken back when I looked up where the mobile passport system was and was not available to passengers.



Two stand outs became obvious to me, first was that Philadelphia was not listed as a supported airport. This is very odd since Philadelphia was a major international connection point for US Airways flights. Now that American Airlines has taken over US Airways, these flights still operate for the most part to many European destinations. With heavy European traffic, as well as traffic from Qatar Airways, British Airways and other foreign air carriers, it would seem to make sense that the mobile boarding pass system would be rolled out quite quickly at Philadelphia. Oddly enough it isn't even listed as an airport where the service is coming soon.

After seeing that Philadelphia is not on the list for mobile passports, I looked to see which airports were on the list. Most of them made a lot of sense with one exception.... RDU. Raleigh-Durham Airport is well past its hay day. The airport once saw major traffic from a short lived American Airlines hub at the airport, but American Airlines closed that hub in the 90's. Midway Airlines operated a hub until post 9/11 events caused Midway to shutter the hub as well. Passenger traffic declined for many years and only in the last 1-2 years has stabilized and ceased with passenger loss.

RDU still operates a single American Airlines flight to Gatwick airport in England that has been long running due to local business traffic. Outside of that flight, the international traffic is largely centered around Caribbean vacation destinations. With such a low flow of international traffic at Raleigh-Durham Airport, it seems odd that the Customs and Boarder Protection would focus efforts on mobile passport systems here over a major airport like Philadelphia.

I fully expect Philadelphia to be brought into the fold at some point, but when that will be is anyone's guess. At this point is seems longer than it should have taken. 

Barclaycard Snubs Android Pay

Another day, another story about a company that doesn't support Android Pay. This time we're talking about Barclaycard, one that I noticed when my JetBlue card was unable to be added to my Android Pay wallet. Like with Citi, this policy confuses me, but there is something running underneath all of this that throws me for a loop. Barclaycard supports Apple Pay.



If you're like most of the world, you're on Android, sorry Apple users it's true. Everywhere in the world, Android is grabbing market share, in Europe it captures 75% of the smartphone market. Even in the US where historically Apple and Android have fought over market share pretty evenly, Android is grabbing shares of Apple's market, now representing 65% of the market in the US and growing. This is not a slight against Apple users, it is merely a fact that makes companies favoritism of Apple all the more confusing. 

In the app arena, if you've been an Android user for any period of time, you've likely noticed companies releasing apps on Apple first. It still happens to this date, my new smart luggage for instance does not yet support Android. Even my website hosting company releases apps on Apple that it has never released to Android users.

Android is massively dominant, but companies appear to be ignoring that customers are more and more on Android. It does not make business sense anymore to release on Apple first and ignore Android for years. Catering to 1/3 of the market in the US seems ludicrous, but that is what companies still do. Whether it is because they are set in their ways, or developers own Apple devices, or whatever the reason, things are still shifting more and more to Android. Ignoring this majority of the population is making less and less business sense.

It is time for Citi, American Airlines, Barclaycard and others to realize that cutting out huge swaths of your customers does not make sense buisness wise or any other way. It's time to throw your weight behind Android just as much as Apple, it is time to support Android Pay. I'm looking at you Barclaycard, let's join the 21st century already.